Mimi & Poppy Camp!

Mimi & Poppy Camp!

Well this past weekend was a special one. We had all three of our grands visiting us for a little less than 72 hours. We called it Mimi & Poppy Camp and we had all kinds of scheduled activities for them. It all started off the moment we picked them up with Road Trip Bingo, and each time they won, Mimi gave them a prize, then there was the sing-a-longs on the way to our house too. We sung to the top of our lungs some of our favorite songs. When we finally made it back to our house, I had special snacks in the refrigerator in the basement that was just for them. The basement in their playroom. Being the Event Planner that I am, I had the next day filled with field trips, pool time and games, golf cart rides then ending the evening with a movie, and popcorn in our PJ’s and that was followed by some object lessons for the devotions Jeff and I had planned.

 

During one of our nights object lesson, we had the kids put together a puzzle backwards, looking at the gray side, not the picture side. Jeff explained that, is like our life sometimes, each thing that happens to us in life, is like a piece of a puzzle and God is putting each piece together because He as the perfect plan for us and although sometimes we can’t understand it and we can’t see what He is trying to do. We have to trust Him even when we don’t understand what is going on.  Jeff had one of them read Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future.” We can trust God even when we can’t see what is going on because He has a plan and it is for your good.

 

I think the highlight of the weekend for me though, was when we met their parents back in Wichita and instead of being excited to go home, they said “Quick Mimi!!, Take us back to your house, we don’t want to go home!!” Of course they were happy to see their parents too. But I have to say, my heart was so happy when they begged to stay with me. I felt I must had succeeded in making them feel special enough to want to come back. As, I sat reflecting on the weekend. I remembered my own Grandma. She always made me feel so special.

 

I remember when she took me into her kitchen one day, and showed me where in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator, at the back she had hidden the cans of root beer she had bought just for me. She told me “Now, This is our little secret, we won’t tell your cousins about this, this is just for you” She made me feel so special that day, it was like I was her most favorite person in the whole world. My grandma was a woman would loved the Lord and certainly showed me that love.

 

All this got me thinking, what if we made every person we came in contact with feel as special as my grandma made me feel and hopefully I made my grands feel. You know one of the other things we talked about with our grands was that we were made in God’s image. We had the kids take modeling clay and create and image of themselves out of it.  We talked about how they look like their parents.. We read in Genesis that God created us, how because we’re made in God’s image and we are suppose to act like Him and when people see us, they should see Jesus in us. .

 

We talked about how God sent His only son to die on the cross for us so that we could have life eternally and live with Him in heaven one day. I don’t know about you but someone dying for me, seems like a pretty special act. There is in fact no greater gift to give, than for someone to lay down their life for us. I know if someone died for me I would be forever grateful and anytime they would ask me anything I would do my best to accommodate them anyway I could.

 

We’ll it’s like that with Christ isn’t it? He gave His life for us, and out of pure gratification we need to follow what He asks us to do and one of those things is to reflect Him. In His time here on earth He showed unconditional love to all no matter their social status or how familiar He was with them.  

 

I have to admit. I struggle with this I am often socially awkward in new situations with people I don’t know, and although I appear to be an outgoing person, sometimes in those situations. I can also appear aloof and maybe even snobbish when I don’t mean to be. I am striving to really be the type of person that everyone feels welcomed and loved by. I not only want my grandchildren to feel special when they walk away from me but everyone I come in contact with.

 

I believe we see Jesus doing this throughout His time here on earth and God calls us to do the same. But things like this don’t happen without an intentional commitment to make it happen. It is so easy to slip back into the our old habits if we aren’t intentional everyday.  

 

Oh! And apparently, I was not the only one grandma loved, and wanted to make feel special.  As my cousins and I sat around the funeral home, after our grandma passed away. All of the sudden one of my cousins speaks up and says. “Well, I know Grandma loved me more because she hid my favorite candy in the bread box for me” and another spoke up and you guessed it, Grandma had hidden something special for them too, She led everyone of her grandchildren, to  all to believe we were the ones she loved the most.

 

So, how about we all be like my Grandma Northcutt this week. Let’s make sure everyone we come in contact with feels like they are the most important person in the world to you! Let’s reflect God’s Love.  Whether it be the person you meet on the street or the coworker you see everyday. Smile, shake their hand, or give them an encouraging word or complement. Let the love of Jesus and all the gratitude you feel towards Him be reflected in all that we do!

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I Came Kicking and Screaming All The Way To Kansas

We were living in Atlanta at the time and marrying a southern man I never expected to live anywhere else but the south until, that infamous phone call came. It was so long ago, telephones hung on your wall.   We call them landlines now, and if you lived back then, you might have had one in several rooms of your home. We had one in the front of the house in the kitchen and another in the back of the house in a bedroom. My parents had two as well in there home where they lived in Kansas.

One day my parents and Jeff and I were having what we would now call a conference call when each of us just got on one of those phones connected to the wall in our home and we all talked to each other.  In the process of the call my parents once again invited us, or maybe it would be better described as begged us to move up to Kansas where they had retired. Being raised an only child and now having the only grandchild, my parents were desperate for us to move closer to them. But I was confident that was never going to happen. I knew our fate was destined to stay in the big city. I was completely okay with that because I had been to Kansas (as my grandparents and extended family lived there) and there was nothing there I wanted.

Once again my parents were asking, but I was convinced that I would, as my parents had, live so far away from my family that we would simply only see each other once or twice a year. Until, Jeff told my parents “Well, I tell you what, if you find me a job up there we will move” I didn’t say anything while we were talking to them on the phone, but as soon as we got off I asked Jeff “You were just pacifying my parents right? We aren’t moving to Kansas, are we? To which Jeff responded ” Yep! We’re moving!” I immediately reminded him that Kansas was in the North and we lived in the South. Because I was certain he had lost his mind for a moment.  In my attempt to bring him back to reality I reminded him of all the reasons why we would need to stay in Atlanta, before moving back to the forgotten world of this place they called Kansas.

Finally, after much aggravation on my part, Jeff just said ” I feel like God wants us to move to Kansas” Well, Now I was confident not only had my husband lost his mind but so had God. Because this was not in my plan and if you looked at our bank account, as I informed my husband, there wasn’t enough money for us to get down the road, let alone move from Atlanta GA to Kansas. Jeff assured me he believed this is what we were supposed to do.  Still, in disbelief, I informed Jeff. Okay, I will go but only if God provides the money and you know it will take at least $2,000 to move. Confident that I would not have to worry about it happening because it was such an outrageous idea,  (now I wish I would have said $10,000) I am certain God was sitting up there saying  “Oh! ye of little faith” because in 2 weeks we were pulling up in a U-haul to my parent’s driveway. Miraculously, in that time God provided the money and we moved. (and that is another story)

See none of that was in my plan, and even after God proved himself by providing the money for us to move, I was still in doubt and confused as to why God was taking us to Kansas. Frankly, I did not want to move here even though it is my birthplace. But God began to uncover His plan for us just 6 weeks later. When my mother, in the middle of the night, called out to us from my parent’s bedroom as we slept in the next room ” Alesa, Jeff come quick your daddy is dying” As Jeff and I raced to my daddy’s side.  I got to experience something I had prayed for. You see many years earlier I had prayed ” God,  Please don’t let me by like my parents and live so far away that when one of them is dying we have to hurry and drive thousands of miles away just praying we get there in time.”

As Jeff and I talked after daddy’s death. He revealed to me that while he was working in Atlanta one day. He was under a house and felt like God had said ” If you want Alesa and Lee to spend any more time with her family, you need to move to Kansas and you need to move to Kansas now ” Jeff said he knew that something was gonna happen and he wanted to make sure I was with my family. There was just something about what he felt God was saying that Jeff knew we had to move. Jeff didn’t know the prayer I had prayed. But God did!

Last week I shared in this article, about how circumstances that come into our lives, might not be what we expect or even want but we can trust the one who brings them to us.  Just like Joseph did as he told his brothers that God used the bad things they did, for good.  (Gen 30) I can look back now and see what God was doing, and how my dream that Jeff and I being the original Chip and Joanna Gains was not in His plan! He had a greater calling for us. Kansas is where our ministry began, Kansas is where the miracle of last 2 children came, and for the past almost 30 years we have loved and lived in Kansas.

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God said ” I know the plans I have for you” notice that word plan is plural. My daughter reminded me of that the other day. So that means God has multiple plans for us to do. If Jeff hadn’t listened to God or worst yet if he had listened to me and we had stayed in the south. I am not sure what would have happened, but I am confident of one thing, our lives would not be the same,  we would not have been touched by the special people we have met here in Kansas and I hope somehow we have touched peoples lives here as well. I am so glad we can trust God’s plans for us. As we enter into 2018 let us resolve that we will trust His plan even when we don’t understand it and especially when we dislike it!

No!!! Not the Piggy!!

Many of us celebrated Thanksgiving last week. One of my favorite memories of Thanksgivings was in 2013, our granddaughter was 3 years old and at our house, it is a tradition to go around the table before we eat and say what we are thankful for. We always start from youngest and go to the oldest. I don’t remember what our granddaughters were thankful for, but as we sat around the table filled with Turkey, Ham, and all the fix’ins, I do remember what happened when our then, 17-year-old son shared what he was thankful for, with his shoulders held back, sitting up as straight as he could, he proudly stated  “I am thankful for the Pig that gave his life for our dinner” at that moment our 3-year-old granddaughter screamed to the top of her lungs in a high pitched tone of great despair ” NO! Not the Piggy!!!” and proceeded to get down from the table and refuse to eat the meal. We still laugh about that to this day.

This year we were blessed that our daughter came home from college and wanted to cook the majority of the meal. It isn’t her first time cooking a turkey, she has lots of experience in the kitchen and of course, it was fantastic. In the weeks before Thanksgiving Amy and I had been talking on the phone discussing what would be on the menu. We even created a spreadsheet and sent it out to the rest of the family asking if there was anything they wanted we had forgotten to list.

Each year, it seems our family talks about how we are going to cut back and not have as much food as we did the year before. You see when it comes to cooking and entertaining I am afraid my daughter is as bad as I am, we just don’t know what the word moderation means. Cooking and entertaining is our love language, it is a way we express our love to others. Setting the table is an art to us. With each plate that is set and napkin place in the napkin ring is an act of love of us. We ended up serving 13 people our Thanksgiving Day meal and I am embarrassed to say we had 23 items on our menu, that included appetizers and desserts. After the meal was all over Amy and I was discussing yet again, how next year we need to cut back. Amy made the statement ” I think when God hears us say we are going to cut back on the food we serve, He laughs at us” We both agreed that is probably true. Because by the time we make the menu then other members of the family want some of their holiday favorites and guest bring food and it just grows from there.

You know, all this got me thinking….  So many times we make plans and dream dreams only to be disappointed later when what we plan doesn’t come to past.  What we do when these disappointments happen tells a lot about who we trust.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 19:21 that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”  My dad use to say “plan as if you are going to live forever but live as if you could die tomorrow”.  Just because God has plans for us doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing. God wants us to live our lives but at the same time, we need to make daily choices in our lives that reflect what God would want us to do so when He does come back we are ready to go back to heaven with Him.  The way we make those daily choices that reflect Him is by making those choices according to what God’s word says. When we live our lives like that then when God comes back to take His children Home to Heaven, He will be happy to. See when things, don’t go the way we plan we have to trust that God has a better plan. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the plans He has for us and they are for good and not to harm. Granted there are somethings we can never plan for, the lost of a loved one, the unexpected pregnancy, an illness that can’t be explained or that person that won’t call you back and you just don’t know why. But when those things happen we have to remember to trust the one who made us and know that He is in control and He loves us so much He will bring good out of what seems like it is bad if we will continue to follow what His word says, even when our plans don’t come to pass.  So God may be laughing at the idea that Amy and I  will ever cut back our menu, but that is only because He has plans to use that for His glory the key for Amy and I is to listen to what He wants to do through us as we show His love. So what will you do next time your plans don’t happen just the way you want? Who will you trust?